Discussing Matters of Concern for the People
û Louis Lang û
The cartel parties with seats in Parliament have differences amongst themselves when it comes to making promises about vague generalities but they are in unanimous agreement that issues of concern for the people are not to be discussed.
The article in Renewal Update No. 28 entitled, “The Role of the ‘Leaders Debates’ in Confounding What Is at Stake in this Election” hits the nail right on the head when it points out that the “leaders’ debates” and media coverage of the election are exclusionary, present no alternative and have nothing to say about matters that concern the people.
The article says, “The people persist in rejecting the anti-social offensive with strikes and other actions. They oppose the destruction of manufacturing jobs, the pillage of the natural resources and the undermining of social programs and the public services on which so many Canadians depend.”
In the fantasyland of the cartel party leaders, the problems created by the anti-social offensive do not merit discussion. Not one word has been said about how Canada Post and the Liberal government abused postal workers and their rights in the last round of negotiations. The Crown corporation and Trudeau government refused to negotiate for months and when they did speak had only proposals for roll-backs in wages and benefits and working conditions.
Postal workers expressed in action their frustration with this refusal to negotiate by organizing rotating strikes last fall. The Liberal government, instead of instructing Canada Post to negotiate, imposed back-to-work legislation, criminalizing the just struggle of postal workers for their claims on what belongs to them by right.
Should this problem of a ruling elite refusing to negotiate terms of employment with the working class not be something discussed in an election? Instead of negotiations, workers are facing dictate, prolonged lockouts and criminalization. Postal workers have been raising these problems for years and insist they must be discussed during elections because they concern all Canadians.
Privatization to Pay the Rich
At Canada Post, privatization has already occurred. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have imposed measures to deregulate various postal services. Canada Post has lost its state-mandated monopoly on package distribution to global monopolies like FedEx, UPS and DHL. This deprives Canada Post and Canadians of much needed added-value that could go both into renewing the post office and towards general state revenue for investments in social programs. The corporation has also reduced direct home delivery and closed many retail outlets, handing over the best locations to private companies such as Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs.
The backward trend towards privatization to pay the rich is accompanied with constant downward pressure on working conditions and the claims of workers on the value they produce in the form of wages, benefits and pensions. A formidable weapon in this attack is the government use of legislation to criminalize workers, like the Trudeau government did last winter, forcing postal workers to end their rotating strikes under threat of imprisonment and heavy fines.
The struggle of postal workers for their rights extends into every community across the country and reflects in many ways the fight of working people for an economy that favours them and not the rich. The fight to defend postal workers’ rights and a public post office is part of the fight to defend the principle of a universal postal service to which all Canadians are equally entitled. This is a matter that concerns all Canadians.
The cartel parties want to cover up the striving of the people to provide solutions to the problems they face and for a new direction for the economy and democratic renewal of politics. To counter this refusal, workers must speak in their own name and organize their own forums and media to discuss the important matters of concern facing the people and society.
Louis Lang is a former President of Ottawa Local 580 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the MLPC candidate in Pontiac, Quebec.